For example, when you react magnesium with oxygen over heat, it forms a lattice of ions. Why does a strong lattice of ions like MgO turn out to be a powder, rather than a solid block?

(Sorry if the answer is obvious; I'm only just being introduced to this)

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    $\begingroup$ Each particle of the powder is a big solid block indeed. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Sep 6 '18 at 5:09
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    $\begingroup$ And you can make a solid block - it is all a question of how it is processed. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Sep 6 '18 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with chemical properties. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Sep 6 '18 at 17:14

This is simply because the combustion of magnesium doesn't occur orderly enough to create one big solid block of magnesium oxide.

When magnesium reacts with air, the way of formation of the oxide lies at the mercy of the chaotic motion of oxygen due to it's entropy in the air. Often, the molecules react simultaneously at various locations in the air around the part of the ribbon undergoing combustion, creating several micro-crystals, which fall down due to gravity on reaching a certain weight. These micro-crystals appear as powder in the macroscopic scale.


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